Saturday, July 23, 2011

You May Already Be a Winner

Would you feel any better if you knew that some specific force, for some special reason, put you at the right place at the right time? Or maybe you're the type of person who's happy enough to just enjoy a good thing without needing to know how it found its way to your door.

One seemingly normal day--May 11, 2011--artist and Gestalt Psychotherapist Joy E. Sanjek decided to visit the Merchant's House. Living nearby, she'd passed it many times over the years and was aware of its haunted reputation. Given her history of brushes with paranormal phenomena, she knew she really should have stopped in sooner.

What caught her attention on this particular day was the 50 cents admission (in celebration of the Museum's 75th anniversary), and the first-ever opening of the servants quarters to the public. That free glass of Founder's Punch (the same recipe served on the Museum's opening day in 1936) didn't hurt either. It was non-alcoholic, by the way, so don't think the following recollection was informed by the fleeting pleasures of a light afternoon buzz.

"When I got to the house," Sanjek recalls, "there was a raffle with a Ghost Hunt as a prize, and it was actually Lee-my ex partner/soul mate's birthday. He died a few years ago, and I thought that was another reason for me to go to this place. So I bought a couple of tickets and heard they were pulling the winner that Saturday night when Dan would be doing his Ghost Hunting 101 lecture. I spoke to Anthony that day and asked him to look for my name when you pull the ticket, because I called Lee up and said, 'Lee, I'd really love this to be something I win.' And we laughed."

Lee, or somebody, must have been listening--because Sanjek won the right to accompany the team on an investigation. But she didn't win because her name was the first one chosen. As luck, or fate, or paranormal intervention would have it, that night's winner was a generous soul who declined the prize--leaving Anthony to go fish for a second time, and draw the name of a Gestalt Psychotherapist who paid her first visit to the Merchant's House on the anniversary of a loved one's death, which was also the anniversary of the museum's birth.

"It's the first time I can remember winning anything that actually mattered to me," noted Sanjek. For the hardened veterans at the Merchant's House, this collusion of happenstance and wishes seemingly granted by the dead was definitely notable-but not particularly unusual.

So keep your eyes peeled for a future blog entry devoted to other tales of coincidences that come with a Twilight-Zone-meets-O-Henry twist. Also be on the lookout for Part II of the July blog-a stand-alone entry that details some unique "firsts" for paranormal sleuthing at the Merchant's House (spoiler alert: It has something to do with the basement, the garden and messages from several of our deceased grandmothers).